Professional Credentials in Biosafety

For years the practitioners of biosafety have come from many different disciplines. It was usually determined that there was a need for someone to oversee the institution’s biohazards operations. It was a position born out of necessity and was usually given over to either a senior research scientist with some background in microbiology or to the “safety guy” with no background in biological work. The field of biosafety has become defined and refined over the years. Research has become very complicated with rDNA work and highly infectious organisms, the threat of bioterrorism, and emerging diseases. Many institutions now require that individuals overseeing biohazard and rDNA work be competent, educated, and have proper experience.

ABSA International offers a Registered Biosafety Professional (RBP) and certification Certified Biological Safety Professional (CBSP) program to recognize biological safety professionals.

RBPs and CBSPs who attended the 2018 ABSA International Conference

RBPs  and CBSPs who attended the 2018 ABSA International Conference

A Registered Biological Safety Professional (RBP) is an individual with documented university education or specialized training in relevant biological safety disciplines. A RBP has an understanding of infectious diseases, their transmission, and the application of methods to safely control infectious materials in research, clinical, production, testing, educational, developmental, and other work environments. RBPs understand the need for and application of biological safety principles and practices. They have detailed knowledge of regulatory guidelines and standards impacting work with infectious agents and materials. A RBP has understanding of safe methods for manipulating, studying, producing, and containing infectious microorganisms and biological hazards. She/he maintains a level of professional knowledge current with new developments in biological safety. RBPs understand sufficient cell biology, pathogenic microbiology, molecular genetics, immune responses of hosts, and concepts of infectious transmission to enable them to apply safeguards to work with biohazardous materials, including recombinant DNA manipulation.

A RBP has “hands on” experience in biological safety program implementation and management and in the drafting, auditing, presentation, training and enforcement of biological safety practices. RBPs are dedicated to the prevention of occupational exposure to infectious diseases and recommend good faith compliance of their employers with all pertinent published laws and standards impacting biological safety in the work place. Registered biological safety professionals never condone work practices that place any employee or individual in imminent or predictable danger of infection.

General Criteria

  • Graduation from an accredited college or university1,2 with a Baccalaureate degree in a physical or biological science discipline, plus
  • Five years or more of professional biological safety experience acceptable to the Credentialing Evaluation Board.
  • Fellowship programs such as NBBTP, GLRCE, MRCE, etc. may be considered at a rate of 100% of the total time spent in the program contingent on the applicants Individual Professional Development Plan and/or specific activities completed during the program. Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

In order to qualify as acceptable biosafety experience, the applicant’s principal responsibility must be to manage and/or direct a comprehensive biosafety program. Although biosafety program management does not need to be the applicant’s only responsibility, the applicant must demonstrate they’ve obtained the required number of years of hands on experience managing and implementing a comprehensive biosafety program. Typical biosafety program management responsibilities may include, but are not limited to, biorisk assessment and management (including hazard identification and risk assessment, management and communication), creating and conducting biosafety related training, establishing written biosafety programs policies, and procedures, developing and maintaining site biosafety manuals and exposure control plans, establishing and leading biosafety committees, reviewing project proposals and providing advice on biosafety issues, providing technical support to medical surveillance program managers, developing and supporting implementation of infectious waste management programs, developing and recommending biosafety practices and plans for biological emergencies, providing technical advice on shipping, importing and exporting biological materials and agents, auditing biosafety and/or biosecurity programs, establishing and managing programs for regulated agents and materials (e.g. HHS/USDA Select Agents and Toxins, Deemed Export, Commerce Control List) and developing site biosecurity programs and plans and conducting biosecurity risk assessments.

In addition, professional biological safety experience may be supplemented with laboratory experience gained through working with biohazards in a microbiology laboratory at a rate of 10% of the total time spent in the laboratory. For example, if an individual has worked for 5 years in a microbiology laboratory using biohazardous materials safely, 6 months of that time may be counted towards professional biological safety experience. Note: Only experience gained through using or working with biological agents and materials may be counted.

Substitutions or Modifications of the General Criteria

  • An earned Doctoral degree in a relevant discipline from an accredited college or university may be recognized in lieu of up to three years of the applicant’s required professional biological safety experience.
  • A Master’s degree in a relevant discipline from an accredited college or university may be recognized in lieu of two years of the applicant’s required professional biological safety experience.
  • Professional certification, licensing, or registration that required qualifications commensurate with those in the General Criteria, may be recognized in lieu of two years of the applicant’s required professional biological safety experience.

(Only one of the professional experience equivalents will be credited. Degrees must be completed at the time of application to be considered. If more than one professional experience equivalent is acceptable, the Evaluation Board will apply the one that provides the most credit.)

An applicant not meeting the academic requirements may, at the discretion of the Evaluation Board, be permitted to substitute approved biological safety experience for each academic year deficient, per the guideline below.

Substitution of biological safety experience for degree requirement:

Biological safety experience may be substituted for the basic academic requisite at the rate of two years (24 months) directly related biosafety experience for each of the four years of the required academic degree. If an individual does not have the requisite baccalaureate degree, he/she may substitute 96 months of professional biosafety experience in lieu of the baccalaureate degree requirement.

Note: Experience used in meeting the basic academic requisite cannot be applied to the professional biological safety experience requisite. This means an individual not meeting the requisite degree requirement noted above would need to demonstrate thirteen years of professional biological safety experience (eight years for degree equivalency and five years of additional experience) to meet the general criteria for registration.

Request for Reconsideration for Good Cause: Requests for reconsideration following rejection of Registration must be submitted in writing to the Credential Evaluation Board along with additional information requested by the Board. The Board shall review the applicant’s credentials, updated information, and the reasons for rejection. Results of the reconsideration will be issued in writing to the applicant by the Credential Evaluation Board.

Appeals Process:

Any denial of credentials may be appealable by the applicant one time per application to the, as follows:

  • If an applicant receives a denial of his or her application from the CEB, he or she may submit written notice to the CEB for reconsideration. If the applicant is not satisfied with the response, he or she may submit written notice to the ABSA President no later than 14 days after the denial is issued and request an appeal if the appeal is based on a factual and or procedural issue with regard to the review and denial. No other issues or matters shall be so appealable.
  • The President shall refer the matter to the Council. They will be provided with the necessary information to conduct an appeal review. The review will take place during a Council meeting with a quorum of Council members present. The Council shall only consider the factual and or procedural issues stated with particularity in the written notice and no other issue or issues.
  • If the Council confirms the denial, the decision is final and no other appeal process shall be available to the applicant. If the denial is not confirmed, the Council shall remit the matter to the CEB with recommendations on addressing any factual or procedural issues, along with instructions to conduct a re-review. If the CEB again denies the applicant, the decision is final and no further appeal is available.

Additional information and application forms can be obtained by writing to:

Credential Evaluation Board
ABSA International
1200 Allanson Road
Mundelein, IL 60060
(866) 425-1385


1. Accredited college or university means accredited by one of the following: Western Association of Schools and Colleges; Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools; New England Association of Schools and Colleges; North Central Association of Colleges and Schools; Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges; or, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

2. For an applicant providing transcripts from a college or university outside the U.S. and Canada, course-by-course verification of the degree program will be required. Any evaluation company accepted by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services ( is acceptable to evaluate academic credentials.


Please read these instructions and the Procedures for Registration thoroughly before completing the application. The documentation you provide serves as the basis for the Evaluation Board’s evaluation. If the application is incomplete, it will be returned to you.

Allow ample time for your application and supporting reference questionnaires and academic transcripts to reach the Evaluation Board. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application and all supporting documentation is sent to the Evaluation Board.


  1. Draft Application: Prepare a draft copy of the application and keep it for your records
  2. Academic Transcripts: Academic transcripts are required to receive credit for your education. Transcript fees when required by the institution are to be paid by the applicant.
    1. Certified transcripts must be provided by the college or university directly to the Evaluation Board (student copies or other copies are not acceptable).
      1. Allow sufficient time for the transcripts to arrive (some institutions take 6-8 weeks to process transcript requests). It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that transcripts are submitted on time.
      2. If you are substituting experience for education and you are not having transcripts sent to the Board, write “NO” in the column entitled “Transcript Requested.” If there is no entry in this column, it will be assumed that transcripts were requested.
    2. For an applicant providing transcripts from a college or university outside the US and Canada, verification of the degree program including a detailed course-by-course report in English will be required. Any evaluation company accepted by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services ( is acceptable to evaluate academic credentials.
  3. Professional References: A minimum of two references are required to be completed and returned using the attached Professional Reference Questionnaire (MS WORD 631KB). One reference must be your current supervisor or, if you are a full-time graduate student at the time of application, a professor from your major discipline. If you are self-employed, it should be from someone familiar with your professional biological safety experience. The second reference may be anyone familiar with your biological safety experience.
    1. Be certain to list on the application only those references who will be submitting reference questionnaires.
    2. One reference must be the individual listed in the experience form as your current supervisor, except as indicated above for students or self-employed individuals.
    3. Provide blank reference questionnaires and return envelopes to all the references listed on your application.
    4. Allow sufficient time for your references to complete and submit their questionnaires. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that reference questionnaires arrive on time.
    5. The Evaluation Board may request additional references, if circumstances dictate.
  4. Professional Biological Safety Experience Form: Beginning with your present assignment, show a history of your safety career to date, accounting for all time during the last 15 years (or to your earliest employment, if less than 15 years) including any breaks or lapses in your safety experience.
    1. Provide sufficient details summarizing each position. Do not use this space merely to refer to an attachment, although you may use attachments to support your position summary.
    2. Complete a separate block for each position held, provide an estimate of the percentage of your time devoted to biological safety responsibilities.
  5. Final Copy: The final copy of your application for submission must be typewritten.
  6. Signature: Be certain that your signature appears on the application. If you have not signed your application, it will be viewed as incomplete and it will be returned to you.
  7. Application Fee: The non-refundable application fee must be attached to the application (check or money order for $75 U.S. dollars drawn on a U. S. Bank, made payable to: ABSA International).